Children’s Accident & Emergency

Yesterday I got the call every mother dreads ‘Miss L’s been hurt in a playground accident, we’re a bit worried about concussion. Can you come and pick her up’.  So I went roaring down to the school in a sick panic to find my girl in the school secretary’s office trying to be brave with her class assistant giving her a cuddle. As soon as I walked in she started shaking and crying and showed me her face which was hiding under an ice pack…..well it was awful. The side of her face was swollen and I could see the bruise starting to develop.  Apparently a younger child had run into her during playtime, and she’d gone straight down onto the concrete playground face first. Miss L said it’d been so quick that she’d not had time to put her hands out to save herself, she was worrying that the little boy who’d run into her was ok – which he was thankfully.

The school suggested I take her to our local minor injuries centre to get her checked out, just in case she was concussed. I was in total agreement, so we saw a Nurse Practitioner who although was happy that she wasn’t concussed (and gave Miss L a cute Teddy Bear for being brave whilst having her bruise poked) was concerned that she’d broken her cheekbone and could I take her to an A&E?

Of course at that moment I went into a blind panic, while trying to appear calm to Miss L.  The nurse gave me the choice of Hinchingbrooke (about to be the first NHS hospital to be taken over by a private company – it’s that bad!) or Addenbrookes. So I plumped for Addenbrookes, apart from the fact it’s a good hospital I had a vague recollection of their being a kids A&E there.  I phoned Paul, he dropped everything and came with us and we drove over to Addenbrookes. One of the pains of living where we do is that you are 40-60 minutes away from any A&E or maternity facilities – nightmare if you’re in a hurry!

Now I spent 7 years in the NHS so I know the ropes, and I have to say while outwardly the main A&E entrance at Addenbrookes looks a bit like entering a refugee camp, it’s run very,very well.  You wash you hands on entry, you’re seen by a Triage nurse instantly, then registered with reception.  The lovely receptionist then sent us down to the Children’s A&E… what an amazing idea.

There were toys to play with, books to read, a giant blackboard wall for them to draw on and CBBC on so they had something to take their minds off feeling ill.  The nurses were incredibily nice – she was assessed within 10 minutes of getting into the unit and nothing was too much trouble. I was told that if Miss L’s condition changed while we were waiting I was to let her know immediately.  We waited a bit to see the Paediatrician, about an hour but it was very busy as there were lots of children there (after school clubs are surprisingly dangerous places it seems!).  But he and his student were excellent, they talked to Miss L and treated her with respect and as a person rather than a ‘thing’ which I’ve seen so many times before in various A&E’s when I’ve been in them.

He said she needed an X-Ray to check the cheek wasn’t broken, and that happened IN THE SAME UNIT within 20 minutes. The Radiologist was kind and gentle in what was a very scary experience for Miss L.  We stood and watched the results instantly on the screen, they were then emailed to the Consultant who checked them. The Paediatrician came back within 20 minutes and she was released with a clean bill of health.

It was the best and fastest experience I’ve ever had in an A&E. The staff were kind, thoughtful and didn’t seem pissed off that they had patients and we were out within 3 hours. Children’s A&E’s are a great idea and something all large Trusts should be investing in. It doesn’t take much to do and makes a big difference to the experience of the ‘customer’.  No one likes sitting in an A&E with a baby or small child crying, it’s stressful for the parent and stressful for other patients.  Also having spent a couple of Saturday evenings in A&E you don’t want to be sitting with a sick child next to the drunk/drugged up walk in’s.   I really think it’s a wonderful idea.

I’d really like to thank everyone we came into contact with yesterday for having been so kind and treating Miss L so well, you made a hard, scary day much easier. Addenbrookes should be proud of you all, you’re running a wonderful service.

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  1. Wow, they turned what was a really scary time, into a much less scary one. I was impressed just reading your experience. I have heard good things about that hospital before. So glad Lily is Ok.

  2. Oh poor lass, I did something very similar when I was a kid so I know how she feels!

    We have a childrens A n E and I cant even count the amount of times I’ve been down there with my son in the past 3 years, they are always efficient and helpful with your concerns, the children dont get quite so freaked out by it and nor do they get bored of waiting. Its a shame not more hospitals can afford them because they are invaluable resources for parents!

  3. Wow, I missed this yesterday. I am so glad that you all had a good experiance and that all is well. Our major A&E has a small childrens p[layroom and childrens cubicles which are super. We have never had a long wait or bad experiance with them.

  4. Oh I’m so sorry to hear your little Lily had such a nasty fall. Must have been so scary. Addenbrookes sounds like it is doing a great job. How I wish they were all like that. The last time I had to take my toddler it was a Friday night, the place was full of drunks and junkies, I was left alone in a cubicle with her with no one telling me what was going on, listening to people being sick. Maybe it’s different in the day time though.

    Do hope she is feeling better today. x

  5. Oh, sweet Lily! Sending her well wishes in fast healing.
    I am happy that the horrific stress was relieved by helpful, nice staff at the A&E.
    AND I think that idea is brilliant, hopefully, it will catch on to have a separate area for children.


  6. I am so glad Lily is ok. I would have been in a panic too but act very calm. I am also gald you have a good experience at the hospital. That is so important. I was in healthcare too for a long spell so I know it doesn’t always go that smoothly.
    Paula Grace ~

  7. Thanks goodness for the NHS, it really is a wonderful institution. I love the idea of a children’s A&E, they are usually such scary places for children and parents alike….fingers crossed their funding continues for the longest time.

    Glad that Lily’s ok.


  8. Amazing to hear a story about the NHS which is positive! My husband and I are both healthcare workers mainly working for the NHS and all we hear of in the news is negative things. And if you go on Mumsnet you would swear that all doctors and nurses wake up with the intention of maiming people. So glad your daughter is ok.

  9. Just seen your photos on facebook, how terrifying for you all. So please that you got such wonderful care and it wasn’t more serious. Children’s A & E sounds like an excellent idea, all hospitals should have one. xx

  10. We have a Children’s A&E as well. I have used it more than a couple of times for broken bones and stitches. They are fantastic, but I have to say our waiting time is nowhere near as good as yours. So glad Lily is OK.

  11. So glad she’s alright. Generally I find A&E pretty good, particularly with children, and my cousin did her radiography training at Addenbroke’s, I know she can’t speak highly enough of it. x

  12. Wow that is an impressive A&E experience!
    We had the opposite when I took the bear to casualty because his lips swelled up; the children’s A&E was closed as they were short staffed and they couldn’t even spare us a bay because they were too busy so I had to sit with a screaming one year old on my lap in the corridor.
    They did get me some cold rice pudding though when he just wouldn’t stop screaming!!

  13. After all your worry and upset and having seen Lily’s face, your experience at A&E certainly compensated. I am so relieved that her cheek wasn’t broken.

    CJ xx

  14. Oh my gosh! I’ve been a total crap blogger and I return here for a visit to find poor Lily went face first onto the concrete!! I’m glad to hear she’s doing OK and hopefully nothing that a kiss and a cupcake couldn’t fix. I’m also in awe of your emergency visit. Don’t EVEN get me started about healthcare in the U.S. 😉

    Hope all is well…I’ve been interviewing furiously for a new job (which naturally I can’t mention on my own blog 😉 so I’ve been absent from life for much of 2010. Hopefully that will all change…

    Be well and a big kiss to Lily!

  15. I’ve never heard of of an A&E just for children, I think it’s a brilliant idea though.

    I’m so glad she’s ok and that you held it together when you were panicking – I have real difficulty doing that when mine are hurt….

  16. Thank you so much for all the lovely comments. She’s back at school with a complete shiner of a black eye, but it’s healing well and she’s ok which is the main thing. I’m so pleased that there are Children’s A&E’s scattered across the country – hopefully it’s something that will become more mainstream.

  17. Poor Lily, glad to see in your comment that she’s doing well. I’ve never had to endure A&E (which is amazing given I have four boys!) but if I do have to I hope it is as well run as the one you went to.